Trigger points are an often neglected, key cause of pain in many individuals. If you have a tender, hypersensitive part of your musculoskeletal system that causes you pain, stiffness, or limited range of motion, you may be experiencing the extremely common pain of a trigger point.
Trigger points are hyperirritable nodules or “knots” in the muscle tissue. When compressed, the sensation ranges from soreness to radiating pain at the site to “referred pain,” which can be quite distant from the trigger point itself. Just as the trigger on a gun is pulled and a remote target is affected by the shot, so too does stimulation of a trigger point in the body cause pain in a separate area. Reliable referred pain patterns have been identified that allow practitioners to determine that the pain experienced in one part of the body is being set off by trigger points elsewhere. Patients also may experience a localized twitching of the trigger point, which is different from a muscle spasm, where the entire muscle contracts.
Though acupuncture, physical therapy, and rehabilitative medicine have all been found to be effective in treating the pain or stiffness caused by trigger points, some patients do not find relief from the crippling pain of trigger points through these methods. If you are experiencing intense pain from a trigger point, your Kaplan physician may recommend trigger-point injections as part of your treatment plan. The procedure involves your doctor injecting a local anesthetic into the trigger point, causing it to become inactive and your pain to be alleviated for a sustained period of time. Trigger-point injections have been found to relieve the pain of patients suffering from fibromyalgia, tension headaches, and other chronic health conditions.